Will Communications Be Another Disaster ?

I just finished reading a very perceptive piece entitled “Communication in Business Especially During a Crisis or Emergency Event” at a blog site called Disasters and Disabilities. This article discusses the needs for a variety of communication methods during a disaster. I agree that email is not a guaranteed method of notifying a large group of parents, clients, or the local community. Museum and library staff will still need old-fashioned written word on a piece of paper and a landline telephone. If during a disaster, a site’s computer is damaged, destroyed, or inaccessible, and the cell towers are not functioning, a regular old landline phone might be the best bet for making contact with volunteers, local and state officials and board members.

How many of us with cell phones have never bothered to learn a specific number because it is programmed by name? The same with email addresses. No one knows the exact email address of every contact. We depend on the stored information instead of our memories. This includes phone numbers and email addresses. If the comfortable system of technology at your institution becomes completely disrupted, written information that has been safely stored and is easily accessible will be indispensable.

A disaster can be anything from eight inches of water flowing down the staircase, a tree coming through the roof, or a catastrophic hurricane event. THE most important part of recovery is verification of the artifacts and/or structure, legal ownership, and personal identity. Having to scramble through wet, sooty, molded or just destroyed piles of rubble will only add to the frustration. If copies of the basic documents are dry, readable and readily accessible, then the recovery and rebuilding process can stay on track. Cell phones, computers, and all other electronic devices might be useless. There is a strong probability that your equipment may be working but the Insurance Agent’s (or other related agency) might not. To verify the coverage, you will need a clear paper copy of the policy or contract that they can read and verify.
If you are associated with a public or private entity, there are precautions that need to be taken. In a disaster, the right format for communicating the needs of the institution will resort back to the tried and true methods of paper and pencil. Here is a list of what needs to be stored on paper in a zip lock, waterproof bag that is stored it off site. A bank deposit box, trunk of the car, in the emergency kit, or fireproof boxes are good ideas.

Remember, if the site or institution is destroyed or damaged, this information is vital to begin the recovery process.

1.Emergency contacts with relationship/position of responsibility: include their full name, physical and email address,and all possible home, work or mobile numbers.
*Important documents (copies)
*Updated inventory lists
*PASSWORDS and USER ID for computer(s).
*Vehicle and structural insurance policies, including flood insurance and special riders for specific items or collections.
*Insurance Agency Information – physical and email addresses, fax and phone information

2. Other information:
-A reliable contractor,
-Debris removal procedures,
-Museum or library disaster policy,
-Related professional groups that support your individual situation
-Board of directors,
-Contractor/Agreement for freezer or cold storage of artifacts
-State and Regional Offices
-Non-Profit affiliates
-Local or State Small Business Administration.
-Accountant or tax attorney,
-Smoke and water restoration services

I hope that following list of suggestions for disaster preparation is wasted time and that the museums, libraries, and historic sites of North Carolina never have to rely on that zip lock bag to restore data or special collection. However, if there is just one disaster or event, then this preparation could mean the ability for your library, museum or historic site to return to a sense of normalcy and get back to the business of life as usual.

Lyn Triplett
C2C Disaster Preparedness Coordinator
NC Department of Cultural Resources
Raleigh, NC

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About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on July 2, 2013, in collections care, Connecting to Collections, conservation, disaster preparedness. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I am glad that you enjoyed my blog post. Disaster and Disability Consultants aims to provide information regarding all 4 phases of emergency management and relevant topics to help people deal with emergency and crisis situations that they will need to deal with.

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